Assessing Asian Environments

Environmental impacts assessment (EIA) tools are used across the globe in connection with projects related to industrial or infrastructural development or mining that have significant environmental implications. EIAs are mandatory in many Asian countries and are projected as a tool that, through the means and language of science and technology, will ensure a sustainable use of nature. But, in practice EIAs are often found to operate first and foremost as a technology that works to legitimize predefined projects. This panel invites papers that critically engage the discourses, practices and politics implicated in assessing Asian environments, as well as the ways in which such assessments enable or disable far-reaching environmental changes.

Energy in Asia

How energy is produced, transmitted and consumed can have immense cultural, social, political and environmental consequences. A long-term structural change in energy systems towards increasing use of renewable energy sources – the so called ‘Energy transition’ seems inevitable to tackle contemporary global and local environmental challenges. Simultaneously, a considerable portion of Asia’s population lack access to adequate energy, resulting in health deprivation, poverty and social inequality. As the world’s most populous region, the complexities of energy in Asia are in need of further exploration that moves beyond conventional technical and economic factors. We are looking for panelists from the Social Sciences, Humanities or Inter-disciplinary Studies that are interested in exploring these issues across Asia.

Food, agriculture and sustainability in Asia: Politics, environments and practices

The social and economic transformations in major Asian countries during the last decades have also involved the reshaping of food and agriculture. Forms of production, distribution and consumption of food have changed in striking ways, affecting and affected by global, regional and local food systems and food cultures.  These changes are giving shape to new Asian 'agrarian environments' while posing serious challenges to global and local environmental sustainability. This panel invites papers with a focus on the sustainability of food production and/or consumption in ‘emerging’ Asia. Relevant topics include, but are not restricted to: Changing food systems, food value chains, agrarian transformations and urban consumer culture.

Environmental history and traditions in Asia



Papers in this panel will address the history of climate change, environmental degradation and human adaptation to these changes, or historical views on nature and the environment in Asian traditions. Both scientific data and written sources in Asia carry historical evidence of large scale climatic changes, of degradation of the environment due to human exploitation of nature, and of human adaptation to a changing environment. Asian philosophies and religions carry traits of indigenous Asian views on the relationship between man, environment and nature. Historically, nature and the environment have been on the agenda in fiction, in philosophical and religious texts, and in public discourse in Asia. All these various historical perspectives on human-nature-environment relations may be the basis for papers in this panel.

Policies and the public

Asia includes many different political models and regimes, influencing forms of interactions and interfaces between political authorities and different groups in the population. How is that reflected in the formulation and implementation of environmental policies and in people’s ways of responding to environmental degradation? What variants of collaborative and authoritarian forms of environmental governance are observable? What role does science play for the different involved actors – policy makers and citizens, for instance –  in identifying problems and searching for solutions? Also, does Asia stand out with regard to instruments of environmental governance that find application in different countries, or cross-regionally?  

Religion, nature and environmental issues in Asia

In recent years, numerous scholars and religious leaders have made the association between religion, nature conservation and environmental issues. Asian traditions such as Buddhism, Daoism, Hinduism and Shinto have all acquired new meanings in the light of contemporary environmental concerns. Sacred texts and ritual practices have sometimes been reinterpreted as “traditional ecological knowledge”, while sacred forests and temple mountains in China, India, Japan, Thailand and elsewhere have been redefined as biodiversity hotspots and subjected to conservation practices. For this panel, we invite papers that critically explore the interplay between religion and the environment in Asia. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, environmental activism by religious organisations, conservation of sacred sites, identity politics and environmental rhetoric, relations between nature worship and environmental change, and conceptions of nature in sacred texts.